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Communications in Cantabria and Asturias are generally slow, with the one main road following the coast through the foothills to the north of the Picos de Europa. If you’re not in a hurry, you may want to make use of the narrow-gauge FEVE rail line (feve.es), which is unmarked on many maps and independent of the main RENFE system; note that rail passes are not valid on this service. The FEVE line can be broadly split into three routes: Bilbao in the Basque Country to Santander; Santander to Oviedo (where local services serve the triangle of Gijón, Avilés and Oviedo); and Oviedo to Ferrol in Galicia. The route is, on the whole, breathtakingly beautiful, skirting beaches, crossing rías and snaking through a succession of limestone gorges, but you will need several days to see it in its entirety. An expensive “train hotel” runs at night, but with the scenery the main attraction of the route, it’s not the most rational way to get around.

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